Happy Wednesday, Misfiteers! Today I decided to talk about a different kind of writing than the typical novel stuff (pun? sort of?): The interview. As I do more of these as both a blogger and an author, I can't help reflecting on my time as a Journalism major at NYU and remembering how much about the art of doing it I learned there. And given how common interviewing has become along with the rise of blogging, I thought it was a topic worth talking about!
To my mind, the most fundamental part of interviewing is:
- Know your subject, by which I mean, do your research on their basics
Along the same vein:
- Read other interviews done with that author
On the flip side, sometimes reading other interviews can prompt questions you wouldn't have previously asked. One of my favorite interviews I've seen on a blog is this one done by the lovely Heather at Flyleaf Review with NA author Leah Raeder. If you read the content, you can see that's what makes it truly great, but I also love the way the questions reflect that she's already read another (okay, my, which I say mostly because she mentions it at the bottom of hers, and we did not know each other at that point) interview with the same author. Instead of repeating them, she builds off them to write related questions. Where I asked: "So, I’m just gonna come out and say it – your book is pretty freaking hot. Got any tips for the squeamish on writing scenes on the sexier side?" (To which Leah basically responded "Alcohol"), Heather then asked:
On a lighter note, I've read that writing those incredibly steamy sex scenes was not the easiest thing and that there may or may not have been alcohol involved in the creation process. That made me smile because sometimes I write my best reviews with a few glasses of wine in me. From the start, did you feel that including those detailed sex scenes was integral to the story?New question; new answer. Presented another detail about the subject, but without rehashing.
Also a great way to research for questions?
- Go beyond the basics
Similarly, some time ago, I interviewed YA author Courtney Summers, and when you have someone who writes high school that awesomely and with that much edge, you can't not want to know what drives them. So I could've asked her about her high school experiences and how they inform her writing. And that would've been a waste, because she's already written a great blog post about the fact that she dropped out at 14, and so her entire answer could've been a fact that was already easily accessible to her fans. Instead, I got to turn that into a little more to build on what was already out there.
- Target what makes an author truly unique
Sometimes, you don't get the luxury of being that picky about who you interview, but that doesn't mean your interview can't draw out the same things. Most authors have lives of some sort on the side, with jobs or hobbies or something that differentiates them from your and me. Seize upon it, and find what makes them Them.
And one more thing on a basic level:
- Don't ask "yes or no" questions; one-word answers are really boring answers